2020 has, thus far, made us wonder if there is even any good left in this world anymore. Turns out there is, but just that it’s been overwhelmed by the bad and the ugly. In SporsCafe’s March 22 edition of ‘Good, Bad & Ugly’, we tell you who to love, who to hate and who to despise.
Football unites to fight against Covid-19
It could be said that no sport has been quite hit like football in these dark times, be it lower-tier clubs on the verge of going into administration or tens of players testing positive for the virus, and thus, the only way out of it is people and athletes coming together, joining hands (no, not literally) and keeping their doors open to those in need. And heart-warmingly, that is exactly what several people in power have done. Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski and his wife Anna, on Saturday, donated €1million (£923,000) to help the fight against coronavirus, while his teammates Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich also donated over €1million between them. Meanwhile, Chelsea Football Club assured two months of free accommodation to NHS workers in its Stamford Bridge Hotel, whilst Gary Neville also assured the same in the hotel he co-owns with Ryan Giggs. And it's not just the clubs and players. Atalanta ultras donated £35,000 to hospitals, while young Dortmund Ultras also offered shopping and courier services to the ones in need in these desperate times. These actions prove that football is not merely a sport and the ones associated with it are not just fans. They are, rather, one big family.
PCB cancelling PSL with immediate effect whilst also testing everyone involved in the league
Let’s be honest. When it comes to PCB or Pakistan Cricket, we’re all quick to get on our high horses and criticize and mock the country, no matter what it does. But right at the start of this week, the PCB set the precedent for the rest of the boards across the world - may be even across sports - to follow. Not only did they cancel the knockout games with immediate effect after one player showed symptoms of the virus, but the very next day, they also ensured that every single member involved in the league - from players to broadcasters - were tested for Covid-19. By doing what they did, the PCB proved that they indeed stand for what’s right and brought to light a major factor that a lot of people tend to overlook - nothing is more important than human life. These are unprecedented times indeed, and one hopes that the IPL will follow suit and do the wise thing, which is to completely call off the season.
French Open pushed to September
On Tuesday, both ATP and WTA announced that the suspension on the Tennis season was being extended till June 7 and also that the French Open was being moved to the end of September. Europe being the epicentre of the pandemic and given Tennis is the most European-dominated sport out there in the world, the decision is totally understandable, but one wonders what it means for the rest of the season. The French Open being moved to September 20 means that it is most likely going to clash with the US Open, so what will they do in that case? Will they push the US Open to October and extend the season till December? Something tells me that we might just see that. This also raises a fair few other questions - what happens to Rome, Monte Carlo, Madrid and all the other clay tournaments that usually happen in May/June? Are they simply going to be cancelled or will they be rescheduled to September? If they are not, are the players supposed to play the French Open in the middle of the US Hard Court season? At the moment, it looks like there is a high chance we might not see any Tennis for the rest of the season. And it is sad, indeed.
Mohammad Hafeez being asked to ‘shut up’ by Wasim Khan
Two days ago, Mohammad Hafeez tweeted his heart out, voicing displeasure over the unusual fast-tracking of tainted opener Sharjeel Khan back into the Pakistani setup. In response, PCB’s CEO Wasim Khan, today, launched a scathing attack on the all-rounder, stating that active players have no rights to have opinions about other cricketers and that he never saw such things happen in the English setup. Clearly, he did not put his time in England to good use, did he? Of course, the English players are the first to make a comment or take a moral high ground when someone mankads or gets caught in a controversy. Hafeez ‘politely’ voicing his views, in my opinion, seemed more cultured than Mr Khan’s public attack that was uncalled for. Players, especially veterans, need to be given the freedom to express their thoughts and if they do cross the line, that should be dealt with in a professional manner. Guess we’ve got to say Mr Khan has left a bitter taste with his actions. Was it not just five minutes ago that I was all praise for the PCB? Ah, Pakistan Cricket in a nutshell.
Mary Kom and Luka Jovic breaking the rules; breaking quarantine
On one hand, you have a bunch of players behaving like true professionals and setting examples while on the other, you have athletes like Mary Kom and Luka Jovic who disgrace the rest with their actions. You have two well-educated, seasoned professionals behaving like utter dimwits, not only putting their own life at risk but also the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of other people. Not only did Jovic travel to Serbia from Spain, he broke quarantine just so that he can party with his girlfriend. Well, no wonder Real Madrid are already planning to offload him. And then you have India’s ‘olympic legend’ Mary Kom, who had to attend a breakfast gathering hosted by the President’s office. You have to wonder, where is the common sense amongst these people? In Kom’s case, the President’s office, first of all, had the audacity and nerve to arrange a ‘gathering’ in times of turmoil and on top of that, Kom had to go there, breaking quarantine. How can someone be so ill-informed and ignorant and have such disdain to a situation that could potentially turn the country upside down? Makes you sad when you think that these are supposedly the people you have ‘looked up to’. There’s no real point of biopics being made if this is how people are going to behave in real life, you know.
Australian Football Leagues to carry on despite the Covid-19 outbreak
The Australian government has already imposed travel restrictions, but guess what? We all are still going to get non-stop action from the National Rugby League (NRL) and soccer's A-League despite the Covid-19 outbreak. This despite Australia registering a total of 1,286 Covid-19 cases, 214 new cases on Sunday alone. When will these people learn? Do they not realize that they are putting the lives of several hundred players in serious jeopardy by doing this? Given that almost every single sporting tournament in the world has been temporarily suspended, the decision from sporting authorities in Australia to just simply ‘get on with the game’ is condemnable and highly irresponsible. Seeing all this just takes me back to Charlie Austin’s (who tested positive himself) words from a couple of days ago, “I would rather we looked back in three or four months’ time and thought we were overcautious than thinking we could have done more.” One can just hope that this message reverberates across every sporting authority in the world that is refusing to do away with the action for the time being.